P.H.S. Brancalion, R.A.G. Viani, B.B.N. Strassburg & R.R. Rodrigues
In the past few centuries, many tropical forests have been modified dramatically by human activity, creating landscapes dominated by agriculture or urban development (Bradshaw, Giam and Sodhi, 2010). This is a problem not only because of the loss of biodiversity, but also because it has affected the supply of many valuable forest products and ecosystem services.
Nevertheless, widespread forest loss and degradation has created new opportunities for ecological restoration, which must now go beyond a solely conservation rationale. In human-modified landscapes in developing countries, tropical forest restoration projects must not only assist the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded, damaged or destroyed (the most used definition of ecological restoration – SER, 2004), they must also bring economic rewards to landowners.
This article discusses the economic dimension of ecological restoration,drawing on experiences in the Brazilian Atlantic forest, which is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet and also one of the richest in endemism (Myers et al., 2000).